CFP: FORMS. New Perspectives on Ancient Metaphysics and Epistemology

Submission deadline: June 30, 2017

Conference date(s):
October 13, 2017 - October 14, 2017

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Milano
Milano, Italy

Topic areas


Call for Papers

FORMS. New Perspectives on Ancient Metaphysics and Epistemology

13-14 October 2017

Università degli Studi di Milano (Italia)

Keynote speakers:

Gábor Betegh

(University of Cambridge)

Victor Caston

(University of Michigan)

Given its philosophical import, “Form” is undoubtedly one of the most relevant and pervasive notions in Ancient thought and, accordingly, in the history of Western philosophy. As a matter of fact, some perennial philosophical topics have their roots in ancient diatribes concerning Forms, starting from the problem of universals, which first surfaced in the dispute between Plato and Aristotle on the nature of the εἴδη. The history of Forms as philosophical tools is therefore not only, or merely, the reconstruction of a key aspect of ancient philosophy. It is rather an intriguing narrative concerning the epistemological and ontological problems which the Forms have both helped to investigate and raised, through appropriations and constant critical debate. Even though Forms seem to disappear from the philosophical lexicon during the Hellenistic Age, the Stoics, for instance, along with their rejection of immaterial Forms, still felt the need for a theory of universals and for a cosmological agent also embodying formal causality (albeit in a peculiar way). This amounts to saying that, even though the Forms themselves disappeared, the philosophical problems they were meant to address and solve were still there. And it is not by chance that the Platonist revival of the I century BCE once again explicitly addressed the problem of Forms. From that stage onwards, Forms came back with Plato, and never ceased to exert their ‘power’. Old and new problems related to the Forms continued to be part of the philosophical agenda in Imperial Age and in Late Antiquity: what is the relation between the Forms and all other principles? If a priority is granted to God, to what extent are the Forms actual principles?

Choosing the notion of “Form” as a particular standpoint, we seek to discuss new perspectives on ancient metaphysics and epistemology that shed light on the philosophical power (and historical relevance) of ancient thought. We expect to discuss – among other things – issues surrounding the nature of Plato’s Forms, the notion of Form and its relationship with matter in Aristotle, and the legacy of these concepts in Hellenistic thought and in Late Antiquity.


Interested scholars are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by 30 June 2017. All abstracts must be sent to Filippo Forcignanò ( in PDF format, ready for blind review. The subject of the email must be “Forms - Abstract submission [surname]”. Scholars are kindly requested to also attach a separate file stating their full name, academic position, and the title of their paper. The Committee will evaluate all abstracts submitted (after confirming their reception), if necessary by seeking the opinion of other scholars. The main evaluation criteria will be: a) pertinence to the topic of the conference; b) originality of the argument; c) clarity and academic rigour; d) historical-philosophical relevance.

The official language of the conference will be English. Abstracts in other languages will not be accepted. The selected speakers will be required to submit their paper by 30 September. Each paper will last 35 minutes, followed by 25 minutes for discussion.

We expect to publish a volume on the topic of the conference, to be submitted to a leading international publisher. The book will also include contributions from authors selected on the basis of a double-blind peer-review process by scholars who are not members of the conference Committee.

No provisions have been made to cover speakers’ travel expenses. However, the organisers will offer each speaker a single room in a hotel near the Università degli Studi di Milano on the nights of Friday 13 and Saturday 14 October. All participants will also be invited to the conference dinner on Friday 13 and to the conference lunch on Saturday 14. Registration to the conference is free of charge.

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